School Fees

This week.
'I need a sixties dress for the play'
'Because me, E, S and C are a sixties pop group. Is the sixties the same as the 1600s?'
'Yes, I'm actually 405 not 45.
Why have I got to provide the costume for the school play which is in 6 days time?'
'Well, we were going to dress up in some old clothes of E's but then C's mum went and bought a sixties dress off the internet and then S's mum bought one too and now I'll have to get a dress'
Sometimes I want to punch other mothers in the face.

The gingham and bias binding cost £6. I wasn't going to spend £7 on a pattern. I used an old school pinafore as a template and drew round it with a Sharpie and my fingers crossed. I've never made a garment without a pattern before.

'I need £4 for a the Explorer Dome next week. It's educational'
'I thought school was educational, why do they need to outsource?'

'There's an art exhibition of our paintings in the hall. They've been framed and you can go and see them on Thursday morning'
'Cool, I'll go, sounds nice'
'And we can buy them for £7'
'Oh....do we have to buy them?'
'We-ell... other mothers are, but you don't have to if you don't want my painting'
Latest money raising tactic of PTAs -guilt the parents into parting with £7 for a picture frame they won't like and a piece of work their child already owns.
'We could always buy another frame. G's has already fallen apart anyway'
Sometimes I want to punch PTA women in the face.

Strictly no finishing of hems or seams. It is going to be worn twice. Slapdash is the word.
It took about half an hour.

'I need some black leggings'
'Oh God, whhhyyyy?
'For our dance... '
'Why do I have to provide all this stuff?! I've just spent £90 on your uniform for next term. Do they think I'm made of money? I can't wait for the holidays, I've had enough of school and if Mrs M thinks she's getting a present she's got another thing coming, I'm going to drink it myself!'
'I'll buy the leggings mummy out of my pocket money'
Great, more guilt.
I wonder what it will be tomorrow.

Considering it was made with such resentment and speed it turned out rather well.
She's going to buy some big black or white clip on earrings, a black headband and borrow a bumpit to finish the look off. She has mentioned that long black boots would really pull the whole thing together but was told not to push it.



  1. Good grief, what a damned cheek! Suggest to the school that the PTA women contribute to a dressing up box that can be plundered at times like these. Don't they know that there is a recession and extras like these are not necessary to education? Have a large Rhubarb and Prosecco my dear.

  2. How rude of me, I forgot to say how good the dress looks!

  3. Thanks Toffee :o) I wish I had some rhubarb and prosecco left.

  4. The dress looks great Sue.
    I am so glad somebody else feels the same as me. Last year when all 3 kids were still at the same school all of the things you just said happened to us. It cost us a bloody fortune. It involved one day handing over a whopping £290 in one go in February that year for t-shirts I didn't want and sweatshirts they didn't need, their own paintings, explorer dome and trips that were "educational" and laughingly were all called voluntary contributions!!!
    What's wrong with just teaching them?? and don't get me started on pigging in service days ggggrrrr
    Punch away! I'll hold them down!

  5. Lovely post and very funny. Have just shared with the household. Dress is lovely!

  6. Oh I loved reading this, especially wanting to punch 'em in the face lol! My son's school changed the uniform two consecutive years - it cost me
    £500. The wonder of Academies.
    He left school a fortnight ago and when he returned his locker key they would not give the deposit back "As we are not going to use those keys again, we don't need them." I sent them a snooty letter about entering into an agreement, reneging upon that agreement and having a moral obligation to demonstrate honourable behaviour to our young people! Alex got the deposit back - LOL!
    Love the dress, Sue - you are a genius!

  7. That dress is great!
    I remember voluntary contributions which aren't new, we were paying them fiften years ago. I once asked what if I didn't pay it because is was "voluntary", I was told or perhaps asked in around-about way could you be a parent helper then its free......mmmm....
    Julie xxxxxxxxxx

  8. Great dress! I despair about the historical costumes we have to conjure up - I had to do three in one week once.

  9. Ahhh, she looks cute though doesn't she? A daughter is a wonderful thing to be cherished and spoilt - even if it means frantically sewing dresses at a moments notice. You came through and you did a great job! The picture thing would have annoyed me though. I would be inclined to ask for the picture and hand them back the frame. That's just emotional blackmail. It's college that's the nightmare. All the books that were provided in school have to be bought. For schools that are supposed to be free for all it isn't a level playing field.

  10. Anonymous8:05 pm BST

    Well that is a great looking dress. This year I just need a cat outfit, sparkly shoes, bright wellies, a blue sparkly t-shirt and fairy wings. My oldest started the sentence 'It would look good with...' but stopped at the look on my face.

  11. What a fab dress! Great job!!! I know what you mean about school fees....they seem to be never ending and I only have one child!!!

  12. There are many reasons to be thankful that all four of my children are now too old for school!

    Lovely dress :D

  13. Great dress, you could make them and sell them on e-bay to make enough for the school fees! Don't get me started I teach part time and lots of my sons friends do not work, they get money for meals, clubs, trips, music lessons, discount on uniform! We are the poor family down our street because bless us we work!

  14. You are a genius; the dress is wonderful and although I'm sorry for you I'm glad it's not just me.

    I was starting to feel mean that I have been moaning about the fact I have to BUY a freakin' ticket to watch my own daughter in her school play.

    And yes, we were given a URL to a fancy dress shop (we all know how much fancy dress costumes cost) to buy her costume. but guess what? my DD has inherited my height and is already bigger than the biggest size costume so I couldn't get it, otherwise the kids would have laughed at her for wearing a costume that was swinging around her calves.

    So now she is upset because she won't look like the others. Aaaaaargh.

    And that's not to mention the £15 for a trip to frickin' cadbury world AND the £3 spending money which she spent on crap. We live in the middle of a beautiful forest, why don't they just take them out into the woods in a pair of wellies with a picnic?

  15. Anonymous10:20 pm BST

    I shouldn't, but I did lol at this one, she looks fab though! As for the pictures, we have had those done twice, the first lot are up in my kitchen, and this year's were gran's mother's day presie :o I set aside an amount at the start of each school year for donations to the school, and once it is gone, its gone.

  16. Fantastic post!! Love the dress too, looks amazing.

  17. Very cute - not a bad 6 quids worth. Maybe she can check out the charity shops for the accessories ?
    We are into the nightmare of fund-raising and Christmas book fairs - its a good thing I have more time than money !

  18. I nearly spat my porridge all over the screen with laughter!
    1st the dress is fantastic,
    2nd I LOVE your grumpiness,
    3rd thank your lucky stars you don't send your kids to school in Australia!
    We are now very appreciative of the free education and free health care. Schooling here costs a fortune. We pay: a 'voluntary' donation, admittedly reduced slightly for families; for all exercise books, text books and equipment; for so many excursions I lose count, for even more INcursions, not to mention the week long camps and trips to "the snow". I dislike the pressure put on the kids to buy raffle tickets/donate prizes and/or bake every 5 mins. I guess it doesn't help having 5 kids in 4 different educational establishments!
    I do spend a fair amount of time being grumpy too!
    Apologies for any dodgy grammar...

  19. Would you prefer it the school just sat the children down and instructed them day in day out, and not give the chance to take part in extra curricular activities. That would make the teacher's job easier, but wouldn't be as much fun for the child! My school provides every single costume for every single play the children do, but we do have to ask for voluntary contributions for trips. How do you think the transport and entrance fees get paid? Perhaps we shouldn't take the children anywhere at all!
    Sorry to be a grump, but there's always another side to a story. People would soon moan if the schools did nothing for the children.

  20. My goodness Kathy! My post was supposed to be funny and tongue in cheek. So sorry that you didn't get it.

    I'm complaining about having to provide costumes and clothing at very short notice out of my own pocket, something you say your school does not expect parents to do.

    I'm complaining about a PTA fund raising effort which amounted to emotional blackmail, something that had nothing whatever to do with my child's education.

    And I'm complaining about it all happening in one week.

    I willingly paid £15 last week for my daughter to go on steam train trip dressed up as an evacuee as part of a WWII experience. I didn't mention that expense in my post as I did not think it was worthy of complaint.

    I do know what the other side of the story is, I was a primary school teacher before having my family.

  21. The dress is fab! I never would have been able to pull that off. Very impressed. K x

  22. We USED to think that by now we would be having foreign holidays and weekends away in small country hotels. FORGET IT. One at Uni and living at home so she/we only pay for tuition fees. She still needs feeding clothing and the rest. The other at sixth form college - "Can I go on a college holiday" zillions!!!!

    WHAT do schools need all this spare cash for anyway, they don't even provide books.

    You have got me started now.

    Yes the dress looks fab. Is there nothing you can't turn your hand to?

  23. Bloody Hell! Seems like I'll need a job just to pay for all 'these little extras' when Violet starts school. Perhaps I should keep a record of just 'how many extra' there will be.
    To say how angry you sounded Sue, you did a fab job with the dress :0)

  24. You do make me laugh! The dress is amazing, took me right back, I had one almost identical to that when I was about 7 or 8. Well done! x

  25. Pati from London10:47 am BST

    What a great dress!!! So cool! It does remind me that I should definitely go on a sewing course as one day it may prove to be very useful!! Enjoy your weekend, Pati x

  26. I always feel like I'm putting (or being asked to put) my hands in my pocket for one thing or another.

    I'm with you on the rant.

    Nina xxx

    ps. the dress looks fab by the way. N x

  27. Anonymous11:21 am BST

    A bit harsh to poor Kathy don't you think?! She is entitled to her view - or perhaps not? Not sure she deserved to have her nose bitten off. It may be tongue in cheek but at the end of the day you devoted a post to having a whinge. An amusing one but a moan nevertheless. Kathy was just putting the other side. More gently and less vociferously than you I might add! Sometimes it seems like bloggers egos get the better of them and they are always right and no one else is to have a point of view. Your blog but you invite comments. If you want them all to agree with you then please say. That will be my assumption from now on I must say. Perhaps teaching was not the profession for you, as you don't seem to like children very much. For some it is a vocation.

  28. Theresa I think that was a rude post. (My opinion!) This is Sue's blog, not an open forum, so there is no call to talk about blogger's egos.

    Sue, flat black pumps look quite 60s (think Twiggy) Most of them seem to have them despite them being ruinous for feet so she could perhaps borrow some if you've managed to keep her to sensible shoes so far?

  29. If I wanted only comments that agreed with me then I'd delete the ones that didn't.

    Yes, by all means have a different point of view from me, though I will of course disagree with you if you do!

  30. Great Post! Am totally with you on this, I'm forever putting hand in pocket for trips etc. The outfits thing isn't an issue yet as my daughter has just turned 4, I can see it all coming now... I'll be damned if I will be put under pressure by what other mothers do! Punch in the face indeed I felt your rage!

    I think I better brush up on my sewing machine skills.... That dress is soo Fab and better than anything you could buy as YOU made it...

    You are a great mum and a great blogger.

  31. your post made me laugh so much and i am sure it rings true with so many mums at the moment :o)
    I cannot believe that the PTA ladies are trying to charge for your childrens artwork...what a cheek!
    Love the dress...great work
    j x

  32. Oh I get it alright and I'm very amused, thank you! The dress is lovely and I'm thinking perhaps you could do one for me at very short notice and at no cost to myself. By the way, speaking as someone who used to be on a PTA I'm just off to buy some protective headgear to guard against possible punches in the face (although it has to be said I would NEVER have expected parents to feel obliged to cough up like that, that really is emotional blackmail!).

    Will send my measurements shortly!

  33. Anonymous1:05 pm BST

    I "get" it too but that doesn't mean I don't sympathise with the poor parents who try their best to help out by raising funds for the school. In my opinion, even metaphorically punching them in the face is unwarranted unless you have attended their meetings and done your best to help out at the school. I am on a PTA and it has been the same 5 faces for six years. Plenty of parents are willing to whinge but very few are willing to give their time. It staggers me that women who don't work outside the home don't give more time to the place where their children spend so much time. And how is it the teacher's fault that your daughter and her friends/friends' parents decided they needed dresses? Sorry Sue, your humour usually does amuse me but not today. Have decided to take a break from reading all but the most realistic blogs as some are becoming too smug for words.

  34. I think we're really getting to see another side of you Sue! I'm not going to be messing with you! Don't hurt your hands wopping all those women!!
    The dress is gorgeous by the way!!

  35. Of course it is not the teacher's fault that my daughter's friends' mothers decided they needed dresses. Who said it was?

    By the way, I do know all about the thankless task of money raising for schools having baked flapjacks and muffins for the school tuck shop each week from 2005 until last year.

  36. Anonymous1:47 pm BST

    Response to Maryb. We are invited to comment. The Internet gives us all a chance to put our view across. There is nothing sacrosanct about the blogger in my view. Because someone blogs it does not give any more right to rudeness than anyone else. I thought Sue was rude to Kathy. You thought I was rude to Sue. There you go. I probably was a bit. Readers and comments are at least in part why most people bother writing blogs. It is tough sometimes but at the end of the day no one forces them to do it and they are rewarded by praise and other accolades. Far more than the average person. If they didn't like it they would stop. Opinion works two ways in my view and I just don't buy the blogger is god mentality. Sometimes it is painful to read comments on some blogs, such is the sycophancy. I will not mention them here. It is not a good thing and devalues a blog. As a blog is ALL about about a blogger I think it is just the place to mention egos - sometimes they get out of hand. I speak in general terms here and not personally.

    Now I must apologise to Sue because I did just highjack her comments and treat it like an open forum when I responded to you.

  37. I totally undertand ....best tactic here is the voluntary donation towards trips .......if your child doesn't pay they dont go , just how is that voluntary

    love the dress


  38. Theresa, thanks for that last comment. I've just found it in the spam folder -no idea why it was put there, Blogger usually only puts comments in the spam folder if they contain links- so sorry about that.

    I have to say I agree with you (except that I didn't think I was rude to Kathy although I can see how it could come across as rude) but your point about blogging for comments is true. I doubt I'd do it if there were no comments at all. But I value the comments as feedback rather than as praise. I know exactly what you mean about sycophancy. I love comments that share similar experiences, or that are funny and yes sometimes ones that disagree with me. I also value the comments as a means to make contact with like-minded people. I have to admit that the 'everything you do is wonderful' type comment I occasionally get (not on this post I hasten to add) can be a bit alarming and sometimes make me feel uncomfortable.

    Comments are not the only reason I blog though. I enjoy composing posts, taking the photos, thinking of things to write about, the whole creative process.

    Thanks Theresa for your thought -provoking comments.

  39. A great post, Sue, that rings true whatever the age of the child! A wonderful dress for your daughter - I hope she enjoys her bit of stardom in it! Have a lovely (peaceful) weekend.

  40. I've held off commenting all day and I'm now cross enough to do so. Your post was supposed to be funny and tongue in cheek? I read it as complaining and whinging. I'm sure you'll disagree, which is as it should be. I wonder if you've complained to the school or just metaphorically punched everyone in the face?

  41. Well, of course I disagree Harriet! I'm absolutely amazed that anyone would take what I considered a jokey post so seriously. Yes it's a litany of complaint and whinging, so what? Of course I don't really want to punch people in the face and I will be giving the teacher her bottle -she'll need it by the end of term.

    I wouldn't consider complaining to the school because the school is only responsible for one of this week's expenses namely the Explorer Dome thing which no doubt will be worth it. The dress expense was due to peer pressure, the picture expense was down to the pta and the leggings are down to an after school dance club. They are all school related though hence my the title of the post and they all came in one week after a week of school trip expenses and uniform expenses.

    I'm actually in the middle of composing a letter of thanks to the head for when my daughter leaves the school as it will mark the end of 12 years of my children's relationship with the school.

  42. Oh that picture framing thing is such a scam, one of our schools did that! I totally share your fury, I have had to buy 3 tickets (£9 each) to watch my daughter's ballet show plus £15 on costume on top of the already steep class fees. And tomorrow is school fete day, a well known money pit! Oh dear, I think you have got me ranging now! Time for a glass of wine...

  43. Glad we home educate!
    But what a great dress you made.

  44. Ian Bowden10:26 pm BST

    You think thats bad, Martha has won an award which will cost us £5 for engraving!!!!!

  45. Anonymous12:30 am BST

    Wow, that set the cat amonmgst the pigeons.
    I've had a good laugh. I usually do when I read your blog Sue, you always enertain me with your observations of the comings and goings of everday life.
    Love the little frock and your talent to just whip it up. Keep on blogging I say!

  46. Anonymous8:08 am BST

    Great results! Worth the trouble!

  47. Loved this blog entry! I thought it was hilarious. Wasn't quite so bad back when my two were in school in the 70s & 80s, but daughter is finding it hard with only one son. She actually pulled him from Cub Scouts because all they were doing was fund raising.

    Your DD looks great in her dress, well done. Shelagh in Vermont.

  48. You're a better woman than I am!

    The dress turned out great! I hate those hidden fees, and the "But the teacher said I have to have it!" surprises.

    But now I have one in college (eek!) and one graduated from college and making her own way in the world.

    Stick it out, it gets better!

    I love your blog, your photos, and your writing!

  49. Ohhhhh, my god, make it stop! I haven't laughed so much in ages. My husband and I are sat on the sofa in hysterics.
    Definitely drink the wine yourself.Sounds like your need is far greater!x

  50. Phew what a storm this blog created I'm going bog eyed reading the mix of comments. I am one of those 5 ish PTA parents and I still find donations a drag, esp with 2 children to donate for! Worked like a dog for the Summer fair last week which was REALLY successful but still some complained and silence from school. Also spent a fortune myself, the same week I paid for new uniforms. Plus I didnt get to SEE my kids ride the donkeys etc because I was manning a flaming stall!! But my children seem to enjoy it (so I was told) I shall try to focus on that when I think 'why do I bother' (on a very regular basis). Lets hope the money is used well and that my children benefit from it. Nik x

  51. Love it, another of your "well that put a smile on my face" post and the dress looks great.
    Carol xx

  52. It would appear that additional school costs creep up no matter which country you live in. I have similar reactions (the desire to punch) when my kids come home only a day or two before an event and say they need this or that. My first thought is why couldn't you give me more time to pull this together. Then I have to go all over town just to find whatever it is they need. I love the dress. I wish I could sew. My two are on summer vacation and my oldest is all ready to go back to school.

  53. Fisherwife2:25 am GMT

    Good grief, people have very little sense of humor! I fiound thos post to put many of my own feelings into words. I get so tired of the last minute"emotional blackmail" that I am subjected to. Good on you for producing a dress even under such irritation. When I read that bit about hitting moms in th face I laughed out loud.

  54. Goodness me, what a tempest in a teapot :o)

    Personally I think you've said what *most parents think inside!

    I refused my 'voluntary' contribution this term due to various reasons. They rang me up to ask where my 'voluntary' contribution was as they had not received it yet! lol.
    School these days is a very expensive business -which I think has hit the nail on the head.
    Schools these days *are* business -ones which we are expected to help and contribute to due to Government cuts, and bad 'managerial' decisions :o(

    Have a great weekend Sue. :o)

  55. P.s. Sorry, forgot to say I love the dress you made -fab idea :o)


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